School budget with slashed tax rate approved by board

Increase in state aid, property value contribute to 6.2% decrease for 2018-19
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Grafton School Board on Monday approved a budget for the 2018-19 school year that will send the tax rate plunging due to an increase in state aid and a spike in property value.

Director of Business Services Topher Adams said the budget calls for a 6.2% tax rate decrease from last year.   

The total tax levy will remain flat at $18.4 million and requires a tax rate of $10.57 per $1,000 of equalized property value.

That means the owner of a $300,000 home would pay about $210 less in school taxes this year.

The decrease nearly wipes out last year’s 66-cent increase that in large part reflected the approval of a $39.9 million referendum for facility improvements.

Adams said the drop in the tax rate is a result of a static levy and a 5.7% increase in equalized property values.

He also said the district will realize a yearly savings of $250,000 because it consolidated three elementary schools into two facilities.

The district’s equalized property value outpaced the state average but won’t negatively affect the state aid this year, Adams said. However, it could have repercussions in the future.

Equalized aid is calculated according to a formula based on property value per student and is designed to provide more state assistance to poorer districts under the state formula.

While property values in the district have increased, enrollment has declined. That makes Grafton a wealthy district under the state formula and further shifts the burden of paying for local education from the state to local taxpayers.

On average in Wisconsin school districts, state aid accounts for 48% of the revenue allowed under the state revenue limit, while local taxes make up 52%, Adams said. In Grafton, state aid accounts for 27% of the district’s revenue and local taxes make up 73% this school year.

Adams said there will be a $200 increase in per-pupil state aid, which isn’t part of the revenue limit. That will amount to $1.6 million in additional state aid for the district.

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